EBM and Traditional Resource Management in Coastal Canada

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

On the Pacific coast of Canada, several First Nations (indigenous societies) have blended their traditional resource management with EBM as part of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area initiative. The initiative's aim is to ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous ocean area by engaging all interested parties - including stakeholders and federal and provincial agencies - in the collaborative development and implementation of an integrated management plan (www.pncima.org).

Steve Diggon, marine planning coordinator for Coastal First Nations (http://coastalfirstnations.ca), describes here how traditional resource management by indigenous Canadian societies relates to today's EBM:

"Traditions of land, sea, and resource stewardship evolved through countless generations in the oral histories of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations. First Nations perspectives on EBM explicitly acknowledge that humans are part of the ecosystem. Human communities are ultimately sustained by ecological systems, and therefore the key to the well-being of both is to maintain ecological integrity. First Nations communities continue to depend on the health of surrounding ecosystems to survive and flourish.

"Traditional stewardship and resource management practices are rooted firmly in a connection to place within First Nation societies, and in their relationship to nature. Access to resources was controlled within tribal territories, with chiefs acting as stewards of communally held resources. Coastal First Nations ethics and values - such as respect for humans and the environment, reciprocity, balance, and reliance on knowledge that is passed on through generations - underlie traditional land and sea management systems.

"During the past four years, First Nations have been working to develop community-based marine use plans. Each has established marine use planning committees that have been instrumental in guiding the development of their plans. Most of the First Nations have completed or are nearing the completion of their plans, articulating each society's values, interests, opportunities, and strategies. The plans will provide each First Nation with a solid basis on which to engage the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area Initiative as well as inform other processes at both the local and regional levels."

For more information:

Steve Diggon, Coastal First Nations - Great Bear Initiative, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. E-mail: sdiggon [at] coastalfirstnations.ca

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